Tomorrow marks the beginning of National Carers Week.
It's a week dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating the significant contribution unpaid carers make in Australia.
Of these 2.7 million people, few may even consider themselves a caregiver.
In their eyes, they are simply doing what must be done to help make the lives of a family member or friend that little bit better.
Every week in Australia informal carers provide 36 million hours of care to loved ones who are living with a disability, mental illness, drug and or alcohol dependency, chronic condition, terminal illness or who are facing the challenges that can come with old age.
This saves Australian taxpayers $1.1 billion in unpaid care per week, according to Carers NSW.
Almost one third of unpaid carers in Australia are primary carers, 55% providing at least 20 hours of unpaid care each week.
Their average age is 55 and more than two thirds of them are women. As of 2015, the number of female carers aged 55 to 64 was almost double the number of men.
And this was four years ago when the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted the last Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC).
In the United Kingdom a study by the National Office of Statistics found similar figures.
Released in March this year, the study found female workers in the UK over the age of 50 are twice as likely as their male counterparts to be unpaid carers.
Women were also found to be more likely to juggle multiple caring roles, with almost one third providing care for different types of people, often a parent and child or grandchild and sometimes to people outside their immediate family.
This is compared to one in five men who do the same. In an opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald Dr Kate Gregorevic wrote about her concerns for women spending so much time caring for others that they don't stay physically active and risk their own ability to care for themselves in old age.
With more people in the world alive now over the age of 65 than under 5, caring for an elderly parent has become one of the most prevalent types of informal caring.
As Australia's older population continues to grow, this type of caring is likely to become even more common in the future. There's no doubt many of Australia's informal caregivers are coping with far more than it is reasonable to expect. Most care willingly.
For many it is the intangible rewards of caring that buoys them to persist. However, caring also comes with some very real challenges.
In an Australian study of carers, 51 per cent reported experiencing depression in the preceding six months.
The time and resources required for caring can also affect a person's ability to keep a fulltime job and in turn their financial situation. The SDAC found a primary carer's weekly median income was 42% lower than that of non-carers. In the aged care and retirement living industries we see many family members who have embraced the role of informal carer for their parents.
Observationally, it's a mixed bag as to whether this happens willingly on their part or by default as they see no one else stepping up to the plate.
Mandating a six-month maximum wait period for home care packages to be allocated would make an enormous difference to the millions of unpaid carers filling this gap in care.
Mandating a six-month maximum wait period for home care packages to be allocated would make an enormous difference to the millions of unpaid carers filling this gap in care.Patrick Reid, IRT Group CEO
That said, the value of informal carers cannot be understated.
At IRT we see the incredible impact that the many informal carers who walk through our doors every day have on the happiness and wellbeing of our residents.
In 2016 we appointed a psychologist, Luke Brown, to help support these dedicated informal carers, as well as our residents and employees.
Luke works across IRT's six Illawarra aged care centres, and has been very active in supporting residents at Kemira at IRT William Beach Gardens, where ageing people with intellectual disability live with or alongside their caregivers.
Luke supports these older carers dealing with grief and loss, and helping them avoid burnout.
Unpaid carers are the unsung heroes of the care system.
Care can only be as good as the mental state and overall wellbeing of the carer.
This depends in turn on the support they receive to attend to their own wellbeing.
For this to happen the needs of caregivers have to be recognised and societal supports better designed to meet them.
Patrick Reid, IRT Group CEO